Relationship Advice


Thoughtful man with coffee cup

I am a male, 32, in a relationship with a nice girl for five years. Over the last half year we've discussed whether we are meant to be life mates, and we've even gone through counseling to solve some nagging issues. At this stage, though I love her dearly, I'm not feeling passion or convinced we are soul mates.

I was just back home visiting family.  As I checked out at the local organic grocery store, the cashier and I agreed we looked familiar. In a brief exchange at the register we realized we went to school together. Later that day I remembered my huge crush on the girl who sat behind me. 

She was so different than the other girls I knew, a brilliant combination of kindheartedness, intelligence, beauty and coolness.  Even at that age she had direction and purpose in life.  Anybody who knew her had the sense she was going to do good in this world someday. 

That premonition was dead-on accurate.  After finishing college she spent a few years in the Peace Corps and is now finishing nursing school.  I tell you this to demonstrate what a tremendously gifted and kind person she is.  That night I was flooded with emotions, remembering my big crush and falling in love with the idea of who she had become.

Next morning these emotions ruled every second of my being.  Despite butterflies in my stomach and nervous adrenaline, I went back to the grocer.  I said I was fascinated to hear more of her life and offered to buy her a cup of tea.  She gave me her number, and we agreed to meet.

Unbeknownst to her, I postponed my departure on her account.  I called hoping to see her that evening, but she said she'd got her days mixed-up and promised to visit her fiancé's parents.  I don’t believe she made the story up, but I was crushed.  On the phone I was dumbstruck and couldn't find another time before my departure.

My life has been plagued by personal and family misfortune, and I thought this chance meeting was no mere accident.  It was fate.  I thought finally in life I was catching a break and something great was about to happen.

Would it be appropriate to send her a letter?  I want to tell her how remarkable she is, how amazing she is to help mankind, and, of course, how I had and have a crush on her.  But then what purpose would it serve?  Is it fair to disrupt her engagement considering I haven't seen her in 15 years?  Or do I have an obligation to my own fate to connect with her?


Adam, there are two ways of interpreting what happened.  Let's call them the Tolkien theory and the law of parsimony.  The Tolkien theory, named for the author of The Lord of the Rings, suggests a mystical union of time and space brought you and your former classmate together.  A thousand things came into play for this to happen, and like Frodo, you are now on a heroic quest upon which much depends. 

The law of parsimony, however, suggests the simplest explanation is usually correct.  Your former classmate crossed your path to show you what you didn't learn in counseling.  You don't want to be with your girlfriend.

While we don't exclude the possibility of the miraculous, we're inclined to go with the obvious.  When a cop pulls you over for speeding in a school zone, it doesn't mean you're supposed to become a policeman.  It means you're not supposed to endanger schoolchildren.

You haven't dated this woman, slept with her, met her family or lived with her quirks.  You cannot think "I'll straighten out my life if I get to have her."  But you should think "I need to end sexual contact with my girlfriend and stop telling her 'I love you'."

Wayne & Tamara